Anyone in the vicinity of Alton Road and 5th Street worried about too much noise, or too much light, or more traffic, or - god forbid! - their views being slightly obstructed by another condo tower at the 500-600 Alton Road project, now called The Wave, can rest easy with current plans scheduled to go before the Miami Beach Design Review Board by developer Crescent Heights in May. Meanwhile, anyone who cares about good architecture, and the importance of this intersection as the entrance to Miami Beach will be bored absolutely to bits.
The design for the project formerly known as SoBe Park has three DecoBike stations in a two block radius, some shopping but not enough of it to annoy the neighbors, a completely open and pedestrian friendly ground level, underground parking, low building heights, rooftop pools, green central courtyard, and even a very 'noir' nighttime lighting scheme that promises not to shine too brightly in anyone's windows. The street level is quite excellent. Aesthetically, however it rehashes some nauseatingly overdone themes of Miami Beach like cruise ships and waves, according to a group of concerned citizens and local architects who have submitted a letter of objection to the project's current architect, Stanley Saitowitz Natoma Architects. Cruise ships have been the standard Miami Beach trope for a hundred years. And waves? For a city with such crappy surfing (our waves are tiny, people) Miami Beach has always overdone it in the 'wave' department.
As designs for "The Wave" undergo revisions, we appreciate efforts you have made and we welcome a walk-able project transforming the principal entrance to South Beach.
For this to be a legacy project for the developer and the architect, a number of design-minded residents would urge you to refine and strengthen the design. Here below is our consensus :
1) Your designs for street level massing, amenities and landscaping get high marks.
2) However the unrelenting upper floor design is monotonous and "very corporate." This wall-like repetition overwhelms the successful ground level.
3) We believe the wave motif would benefit from being interrupted and juxtaposed with vertical elements, particularly in the hospital tower, and from a textural dynamic or syncopation in the wave frequency.( In works of art from Boticelli to Turner to Hokusai, a wave is never a mechanically generated ripple. A wave can be fractal, for instance. )
4) Just as West Coast projects by this excellent firm achieve nuanced understandings of context and culture, we believe the project's reading of Miami Beach as all shiny playful cruise ship balconies and curves is too reductive and needs refining.
5) The vertically sculpted corner columns on the hospital could be showcased to contrast with overwhelming horizontals.
6) A few of us consider the surviving MiMo entrance on Alton could be restored and rendered glamorous. As restaurant use is planned, this unique feature could visually brand a high-end restaurant, as has been done at the Fontainebleau.
7) There is consensus among us that white and blue glass in Miami Beach has become generic and dated.
In closing, please accept these comments as offered in good faith, and constructive.
Years have passed since the reviled 5th & Alton project was approved. Today sophisticated projects are coming on line in lower South Beach (Enrique Norten, Rene Gonzalez, etc.)
Much effort on your part has gone into planning this 'gateway' ensemble. We urge you to refine the external designs and palette on upper floors, to celebrate elements from the hospital adding verticality and specificity.
We look forward to a brilliant legacy project on this site.
With best wishes,
Beth Dunlop, Gayle Durham (WAVNA) Kevin Gray, Christina Labuzetta, Clotilde Luce, Arthur Marcus, William Lane, Jean-François Lejeune
· SoBe Park coverage [Curbed Miami]